Through the first 35 games of the 2016 season, the New York Mets have had a good one, at 21-14. They are currently behind the Washington Nationals by 1.5 games, and would play the Philadelphia Phillies (yes, the Phillies) in a one-game Wild Card playoff, if the season ended today.
The pitching has received a lot of the attention thus far; Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom have not been at the top of their games, while Noah Syndergaard has taken a huge leap forward into becoming a dominant pitcher. However, the offense should be discussed more often, for one main reason:
It has been really weird this season.
The Mets are second in the majors with 51 home runs, and eighth in wRC+ with 102, both of which are above average, and very good. Conversely, their team average of .236 is 21st in the MLB, and their 23.2 strikeout percentage is seventh highest.
The ups and downs do not stop there; in fact, it is like that almost across the board. The team’s 9.3 walk percentage is eighth, but the .317 on-base percentage is 17th. Their .426 slugging percentage is eighth highest, and their ISO is second at .190.
Across the board, it is very up and down; as something many Mets beat reporters have written about, the Mets are an all or nothing offense right now. That is a very valid argument; the Mets are hitting balls out of the ballpark, but they are not hitting much else. The fact that they have both high walk rates and high strikeout rates attribute to their power levels; power hitters commonly have both of these at high levels. The Mets are a team stocked full of power, so the shoe definitely fits.
Another thing that is interesting is their BABIP.
Their BABIP (batting average on balls in play; the league average is around .300) is a paltry .275. BABIP is not solely luck and defense based, but it is important. If a dribbler or a bloop falls in for a single, that raises a batter’s BABIP, but he got lucky. If the next batter gets a home run robbed from him, it lowers his BABIP.
The Mets’ BABIP in the second half of last season (when they got the offense they have now, save for Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker) was .298; right around league average. In that case, their 102 home runs put them over the top.
That .275 BABIP should not stay down at .275; if the second half of last season (admittedly a small sample size, considering the statistic, it still is an interesting angle to look at) was around league average, this team should, in theory, be around the same mark. The Mets should be getting on base a lot more, and those base runners will help kickstart the rest of the offense.
Something that should not be ignored so far this season is their horrendous performance with runners in scoring position. The team is batting a league worst .205, with a 79 wRC+ with runners in scoring position. That is really bad (like, stupendously bad), and that simply cannot hold up for a full 162-game season; the team is too talented, simply put.
Overall, the Mets offense, outside of its power and its ability to get on base, is in a weird spot. They hit the ball far (which is extremely important, and good), but that’s basically all they do. It is a weird performance to wrap one’s head around, but really interesting to look into in the young 2016 season.